Monday, November 17, 2008

PSA for "Wool" Washers

I'm remembering back to when I received my first raw sheepie fleece and researched the various methods on washing it. I learned that my clothing washer would work nicely as it did not add water during the spin cycle and even better, it has an extra large capacity. I also learned that as we have a septic system I was not going to be able to let the wash and rinse water go into said septic system. No problem there, I have a "make it work for me" kind of hubby and he solved that issue for me. In all the "how to's" I read they said the same thing. "Place the fleece in mesh laundry bags." Well, I loaded up on those little lingerie bags and as I pulled my clean spun out fleece from the washer I loaded up the little baggies, then hung them out to dry. They certainly sped up the drying process as the air was able to circulate nicely through the smaller quantities.

In one of my washing trials I had washed a portion of the fleece in the little baggies, but was unhappy with the added rinses needed to completely clean the fleece as the baggies seemed to collect some of the dirt, so I gave that up and just soaked and spun out the fleece in the washer. I had been told this could cause issues but I'd never had any so just wrote those issues off to being a design difference in various washing machines. Well, I've been noticing that my clothing has not been spinning out as well at the finish of a wash cycle. This puts added strain on the dryer and as I do NOT want to replace those appliances (and not just because I'm a cheapo either. lol) I kinda keep an eye on things like this. Another clue something was amis was the clump of fur like stuff that came out from under the agitator after washing Tuckers blankets. Most of it was a light color, but there were some darkish colors that led me to feeling around under the agitator and I came up with a clump of what was defiantly brown alpaca.

So yesterday I mentioned to Don that I was going to have to take the agitator off and see what all was trapped down there. After he left for work this morning I did just that. (I don't recommend that you take apart your appliances unless you know what you're doing and are comfortable with it. I've got an overdeveloped sense of, "I should just be able to remove that bolt..." and like I stated above, Don's much the same. For some reason it always seems to work out for us. The trickiest part was finding the correct socket and extension combo that would work. As luck would have it they were basically on top of the tool pile so there must be an 11 mm nut on the motorcycle somewhere. ;)

Well gang, it's not pretty but here's what I found.

And here it is removed from the agitator column. It's basically a felted wool gasket/filter with another clump of alpaca hanging off of it as if for decoration. The main issue this was causing is that it was partially blocking the drains in the bottom of the tub and as you can imagine was slowing down the flow of water out it. (Pretty gross if you ask me!) It was also filtering and collecting some of the washer sludge so it stinks pretty good. I've since cleaned and reassembled the agitator and have run a load of mixed colors through it. At the end of the cycle they were spun out perfectly! Success!

In closing, it looks like I'll have to go back to using the little baggies to wash and rinse as well as dry the fiber. It's not work risking my large capacity washer to the fiber monster under the agitator.

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